Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'We Will Rock You' Pays Rockin Homage To Queen

 (top to bottom)  Ryan Knowles, Brian Justin Crum and Ruby Lewis

By Darlene Donloe

Queen and Ben Elton’s We Will Rock You, now playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles through Aug. 24, is nothing short of a rockin’ good time.

In fact, audience members are encouraged to wear their concert tees, download lighter apps and bring their drinks from the lobby into the theatre – including the special themed drinks The Bohemian Rhapsody (rum, blue curaçao, orange juice and tonic) and The Killer Queen (Jack Daniels Whiskey, ginger ale, pineapple juice and lemon). 

Yes, some Queen aficionados will surely find fault with some parts of the show, but the real meat of the production, the music, is on point. In its defense (which it doesn’t need), this show doesn’t take itself seriously.  It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s silly, it’s raunchy, the costumes are crazy, the dialogue at times ridiculous, it takes liberties, has cheap jokes and it’s very campy. Very campy!!!

One character bemoans that the death of rock has something to do with American Idol.

Queen was known for the unapologetic pureness of its rock n’ roll music. Who doesn’t bop their head, clap their hands or stomp their feet while listening to, Another One Bites The Dust or We Will Rock You?

This is not a stuffy, buttoned down affair. Act like you’re going to a rock concert – because you are!!!!

The long-running, West End smash hit musical is built around 24 of Queen’s biggest hits.

The show includes such songs as, Another One Bites The Dust, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Are The Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody and, of course, We Will Rock You 

The high-energy, hilarious jukebox musical is set in the future on a planet once called Earth that is now controlled by a big corporation (Globalsoft). Don’t laugh, it could happen!!

Computer-generated music reigns, no rock music, no live music is heard, all musical instruments are banned and conformity is enforced.

Well, two young renegades are having none of it. They don’t know what they’re feeling deep down in their souls, but they know they feel something.

Galileo (Brian Justin Crum) and Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis) are determined to bring live music back to the masses.

They decide to lead a band of former pure rock enthusiasts, who are also looking to rock it out.  So, they go up against Globalsoft and the Killer Queen, and, of course, are met with resistance.

If Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, is watching this show, he must be smiling every time Crum or Lewis opens their mouths to blow.  These two singers are stadium-quality singers. They are incredible!!!  They do Queen’s music justice – in every possible way!

Jacqueline B. Arnold, who plays Killer Queen, the leader of Globalsoft, is no slouch. She blows as well. With her musical chops she commands the stage every time she steps afoot.

Ryan Knowles, who plays Buddy, part of the underground renegades seeking to hear and play real music, nearly steals this show. His voice is luscious and his one-liners are hilarious!

In fact, this show is full of musically gifted singers, which is good because Queen’s music is the real star of this show.

We Will Rock You, now on its first U.S. tour, was a huge success in London, where it closed last May after a 12-year run.

We Will Rock You is a fun romp. Go, sing, reminisce, have fun, ROCK ON!!!!

Will Rock You, directed by Elton, features Brian Justin Crum, Ruby Lewis, Jacqueline B. Arnold, P.J. Griffith, Ryan Knowles, Erica Peck and Jared Zirilli.

The cast also includes Todd Adamson, Danny Balkwill, Samantha Berman, Jessica Crouch, Alex DeLeo, Saccha Dennis, Sam DiGiuseppe, Suzanna Dupree, Daniel Greenberg, Stephen Hernandez, Nathan Keen, Daniel Kermidas, Ryan Koss, Brooke Morrison, Corey Mosello, Jennifer Mote, Katie Murphy, Jennifer Noble, Stephanie Sy and Kasey Walker.

The show’s lighting designer is Willie Williams, hair and make up is by John ‘Jack’ Curtin, costumes by Tim Goodchild, sound design Bobby Aitken, Nate Patten is the musical director/conductor.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), We Will Rock You gets an E (excellent).

We Will Rock You, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; $25-$120; through Aug. 24; 213 972-4400 or www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.

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